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Fact Checking Government claims on MGNREGS

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The BJP government published an infographic on the 48-months portal making two claims relating to timely payments & women participation in the MGNREGS. This article is a fact check of these claims.

The BJP government published an infographic on the 48-months portal making two claims relating to timely payments & women participation in the MGNREGS. This article is a fact check of these claims.

What is the MGNREGS?
The document of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) along with its amendments states that ‘for rural development,  major focus of planning had been productive absorption of under-employed and surplus labour force of the rural sector. In order to provide supplementary wage-employment to the rural poor through public works, many programmes were initiated by the government of India, namely, National Rural Employment Programme, Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme and Jawahar Rozgar Yojna. Currently, Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana is being implemented all over the country. Though this yojana is providing some relief to the rural poor, its reach has been inadequate in view of the dimension of the unemployment in rural areas. Therefore, an urgent need was felt to ensure at least some minimum days of employment in the shape of manual labour to every household in the rural areas. Accordingly, the government resolved to enact a suitable act which will provide legal guarantee for at least 100 days of employment every year at minimum wages for at least one able-bodied person in every rural poor house-hold. To achieve this objective, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill was introduced in the Parliament’.

The act was notified in 200 districts in the first phase with effect from February 2nd, 2006 and then extended to an additional 130 districts in the financial year 2007-2008 (113 districts were notified with effect from April 1st 2007, and 17 districts in Uttar Pradesh were notified with effect from May 15th 2007). The remaining districts have been notified under MGNREGA with effect from April 2008. Thus the MGNREGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a 100% urban population.

Has the payment of wages to workers become more efficient?
The first claim is that ‘payment of wages to workers within 15 days in 85% of the cases as compared to long delays in the past’.

The answers provided to various questions in Lok Sabha have shown a progressive improvement in the time taken to make payments to MGNREGA workers. However, there is a catch here. The government clarified in 2017 that the delays are calculated only until the Funds Transfer Order (FTO) is generated at the block/panchayat level. It does not take into account the actual receipt of the payment by the worker.

Hence the available data on delay is only regarding the generation of the FTO at the block/panchayat level. As per the data available in the Programme Management Information System (MIS), the payments amounting to Rs. 12673.14 crore were delayed beyond the stipulated period of 15 days under the MGNREGA in 2013-14. The payment of wages under MGNREGA is delayed beyond the stipulated period of 15 days due to lack of adequate administrative and technical staff, absence of bank/post offices branches, lack of connectivity, etc. as per the government’s response in the Lok Sabha in 2014.

While the system of payment of compensation for delays exists (under which compensation @ 0.05% per day of delay beyond the 15th day since the closure of the muster roll, would be paid to the wage seekers), it is rarely implemented. For instance, against a total payable amount of compensation in 2018-19 of Rs. 40.1 crores as of 10th March 2019, only Rs. 3.9 crores is approved so far and only Rs. 1.88 crores is paid.

As per the Government’s MIS system, timely payment of wages has been made in 84.52% cases in 2017-18. However, a research paper by Azim Premji University that analysed a large sample of this data concludes that only 32% of the wage payments have been made on time (payments reaching the wage seeker) contrary to the claims of 85%.

Claim: Payment of wages to workers within 15 days in 85% of the cases as compared to long delays in the past.

Fact: As per the Government’s MIS system, timely payment of wages has been made in 84.52% cases in 2017-18. However, a research paper by Azim Premji University that analysed a large sample of data concludes that only 32% of the wage payments have been made on time (payments reaching the wage seeker) contrary to the claims of 85%. Moreover, the government clarified in 2017 that the delays are calculated only until the Funds Transfer Order (FTO) is generated at the block/panchayat level. It does not take into account the actual receipt of the payment by the worker. Hence the claim is PARTLY TRUE.

Did 2016-17 have the highest participation of women?
The second claim is that ‘program has seen highest ever participation of women in 2016-17 at 56%’.

A response in Lok Sabha from 2016 states that ‘rural women are employed in all types of works/ projects permitted under Schedule-I of the Act. The Ministry has issued guidelines to the States from time to time to facilitate women participation by providing worksite facilities such as crèches, drinking water, shade, etc. as per provisions of the Act. It has also been suggested that at least 50% of the worksite supervisors(Mates) at all worksites to be women and special works which require less effort and those that are close to their houses are to be given to pregnant women and lactating mothers’.

The percentage of women person days generated since 2011 can be seen in the following graph. The data for the graph has been collated from Lok Sabha answers to question no. 2208, question no. 1135, question no. 2660 and question no. 4198.  While it is true that the year 2016-17 saw the highest participation of women (56.2%) ever since the inception of the scheme, it has since declined in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Claim: Highest ever participation of women in 2016-17 at 56%

Fact: The claim is TRUE that the year 2016-17 saw the highest participation of women (56.2%) ever since the inception of the program. However, it has since declined in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here

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